In every presidential election since 1992, the poet and literary troublemaker Sparrow has mounted a quixotic campaign for president. A frequent Sun contributor — most recently “Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation” [January 2020] — he often sends us an account of his election-year triumphs and follies. This is the seventh such “campaign diary” we have printed.
The pandemic has made Sparrow’s 2020 effort quieter than before. Instead of delivering campaign addresses from a soapbox, he tweets seventeen-word aphorisms. But Sparrow’s message has remained essentially the same: under no circumstances should anyone vote for him.
A style note: though The Sun treats president as lowercase, Sparrow runs only for the Capital-P Presidency.
October 3, 2019
Donald Trump has proven one thing: pretty much anyone can be President. When he says at one of his rallies, “I’m gonna make this country great again,” he sounds exactly like a sleazy used-car salesman trying to unload a defective Ford. But Trump is so happy being a huckster that desperate people believe him. Their belief makes him “legitimate” — and dangerous.
I have run for President seven times before and written a book, Republican like Me, about my 1996 campaign. Did Trump learn from my failed Presidential campaigns? It seems unlikely, but his air of jaunty confidence, combined with erratic bursts of self-contradictory rhetoric, mirrors my technique. Maybe it’s just that Trump and I are both New Yorkers, and New York is home to many people with minimal talent who briefly convince the world to admire them. Though our politics differ, Trump and I are both, at heart, Manhattan performance artists.
A politician is an actor pretending to be a director.
I’m reading a website about dog training. Canine expert Cesar Millan says that when a dog exhibits unfocused, excess energy — jumping, spinning, and so on — it’s probably due to anxiety. Yet we respond to it as happiness and give the dog affection. Thus we teach our dogs to be filled with unbalanced energy. “This is the quickest way to wind up with an excited, assertive, confused dog that will try to be the Pack Leader every chance she gets,” Millan writes.
In the last Presidential election, voters chose a jumping, spinning, tweeting dog, and now we’ve got an excited, assertive, confused Pack Leader.
“Are you running for President this year?” my one-hundred-year-old father asks me. “I think you should. People are sick of Trump. You might beat him. This could be your year!”
I will be the first President to set up a customer-service line. If you are unsatisfied with my Presidency in any way, you can call a toll-free number, and a representative in the Philippines will carefully note your complaint. Afterward I will modify my administration accordingly.
When I was younger, I was sure I would never be famous — and I was right.
Thanks to a generous federal program — instituted by the Republicans — called the Earned Income Tax Credit, I paid zero taxes for sixteen years. In fact, the government forked over money to me because I was poor and had a dependent child. But my daughter has aged out of dependency, and now I must proffer $1,106 a year to the feds.
So I am helping fund the chaotic revenge fantasies of Donald Trump.
My friend Alan gave me the New York Times obituary of the feminist intellectual Ann Snitow, whom he knew:
“The feminism I love and that has sustained a lifetime of engagement is the feminism of uncertainty,” she said in April 2019 at her retirement party from the New School, where she taught for more than three decades. “Feminism keeps changing — and should. Uncertainty: what an odd banner to fly under — but there it is.”
She’s right. In Snitow’s honor I have invented the philosophy of Uncertainism, which extends her ideas into governance. Socialism, libertarianism, anarchism, conservatism — none of these alone will forge a purely just society. Instead we must dance cleverly among them. Only Uncertainism can save us!
Here is my new solution to the tedium of socialism: We will allow just one billionaire, but every three days that role will be occupied by a new person, elected by lottery. (If chosen, you are allowed to spend only $20,000 a day.) I call it the Rotating Billionaire System.
Donald Trump’s absurd obsession with building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico suggests that the true answer is just the opposite: Canada, the U.S., and Mexico must unite into one North American nation, with a single Prime Minister — me, because the whole thing is my idea. Future generations will thank me for breaking down the artificial divisions between these three vanished political entities.
Trump has broken all but one and a half of the Ten Commandments.
The fact that so many voters chose Barack Obama, then switched parties to support Trump, suggests that they see both Trump’s racism and Obama’s blackness as peculiarities to be quietly tolerated.
My friend Aaron recently completed a course in sound technology. He told me that all concerts today are too loud — to the point where the music actually damages your ears. Even folk music!
What are we doing to ourselves? Why must we scream at each other in restaurants? What is this sonic madness?
When I am President, I will endeavor to bring down the sound level of the whole nation. I will whisper my State of the Union Address.
Democratic Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard has called me “a fringe candidate who’s literally beyond the fringe.” This is the first time, in the eight Presidential contests I have participated in, that I’ve been attacked — or even noticed — by a major contender. Maybe I’m too thin-skinned, but I don’t see myself as beyond the periphery of mainstream politics. Many of Gabbard’s positions, in fact, are crazier than my Rotating Billionaire System or the unification of North America. According to The New York Times, neo-Nazis call her “Mommy” because she criticizes Israel and has an isolationist foreign policy. Gabbard has ties to a charismatic guru named Chris Butler, founder of the creepy-sounding Science of Identity Foundation. And she supports the Hindu nationalist prime minister of India, Narendra Modi.
The more I think of it, I’m proud she insulted me!
OK, I lied about Gabbard attacking me. It’s just another of my grandiose self-delusions, like running for President.
In my dreams I’m always living quite happily with numerous people in a collective household. My unconscious is clearly socialist.
I wonder if voters who opted for Trump are simply sick of having an empire. Trump is dismantling much of the world-dominating apparatus our nation operates — even NATO. His actions are largely symbolic, and he actually increases military spending, but Trump is deeply pessimistic that the U.S.A. can improve the planet. Some of the Left’s critique of Trump — “America is losing respect in the world” — reveals a nostalgia for empire. One has the distinct feeling that the American Century is over — and the Russian-Chinese-Turkish Century has begun.
In a nation founded on the brutality of slavery, I am troubled by the term “master bedroom.”
I have trouble figuring out how to open and close curtains. How can I understand global economics?
Spiritual teacher Ram Dass died yesterday. He was a great soul.
When I saw him in Gainesville, Florida, in 1976, he said: “Half of what I say is the deepest wisdom, and half is pure nonsense — and the problem is, I can’t tell which is which!”
The latest polls show that 50 percent of U.S. voters want Trump to be impeached and replaced, but when the same polls match Trump up against possible Democratic rivals in 2020, he wins. How is this possible? The only conclusion I can draw is that, at this point, politics in the U.S.A. has become a TV series, and the electorate wants multifarious plot twists. An impeachment is more exciting than no impeachment.
“God helps those who help themselves” is an awful dictum. I prefer: “God helps those who help the helpless.”
The U.S.A. has the largest incarcerated population in the world: 2.3 million prisoners. Why not decentralize the system by transferring those inmates to 2.3 million citizens’ homes? Anyone could volunteer to house an inmate in a homemade cell — perhaps in a corner of a bedroom. This would be cost-effective, and would dissolve the unnatural separation between the general population and the imprisoned. In fact, many warm friendships may result.
January 6, 2020
Everyone I meet is a variant of one of the kids I knew in kindergarten.
I try to stay in character as “Sparrow the Presidential Candidate,” even in the bathtub.
Dictionaries ruined the English language by standardizing spelling. Before that, Shakespeare could freely coin words like congreeted, fathom, and zany. But by the eighteenth century, English had begun to contract.
When I am President, I will form a Department of Language Creation to encourage everyone to produce new words. For example, English does not have a verb form of compassion — unlike French, where compassioner means “to show lovingkindness.” Let’s introduce such a term to English so I can use it in a slogan:
Sparrow for President! He Compassionates Us!
I hate when people call Donald Trump “45,” as if he were an ordinary, legitimate President. If he has to have a number, I would suggest -367.
Capitalism has failed, but since no one can think of a better system, it remains.
I’m starting a new website called LinkedOut. It’s for people who want to quit their jobs, move to the forest, and live on wild herbs. LinkedOut will display your headshot, your résumé, and a warning to employers not to hire you.
Without racism, Trump is just a fourth-rate stand-up comic.
Today, unless a miracle intervenes, the Senate will acquit Donald J. Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors.
This was the first impeachment ever carried out by Democrats, and yesterday I noticed the whole process was amazingly Jewish! Two of the key witnesses — Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland — were of the Jewish faith, as were two of the main prosecutors, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. Trump unleashed a wave of anti-Semitism in the U.S., so perhaps the impeachment was, on some level, an act of Jewish self-defense. Jews remember all too well the rise of fascism in Germany, and our present leader (whose ancestral German name was Drumpf) skillfully adapts Hitler’s style to the Age of Twitter. What was once a two-hour screaming speech is now a snide one-line put-down.
So far the front-runners for the Democratic nomination are a seventy-eight-year-old Jewish socialist and a young gay ex-mayor. Not only are the Democrats too far left for the voters; they’re too left even for themselves.
Paranoia used to be an individual mental illness; now it’s a political ideology. Enough voters identify with Trump’s persecution complex to make him the leader of the “free world.” (There’s a term you don’t hear anymore.)
I’m the only person I know who doesn’t think Trump is a narcissist. Why? Because I am a narcissist. Every stray thought I have, I write down and include in my campaign. Trump never reveals his true thinking. At his rallies he tells his angry audiences exactly what they want to hear. According to New York magazine, when Trump was running in 2016, one of his staffers listened to talk radio and jotted down the most frequent points callers made. This became Trump’s platform: “Build a wall!” “Immigrants are rapists!” “America is losing jobs to China!” A true narcissist is not a parrot.
Trump has put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of his coronavirus task force — a terrible choice. When you’re afraid of dying, who wants a thin-lipped, hypnotized mercenary like Pence defending you? You need an empathetic social democrat.
The coronavirus may elect Bernie Sanders.
A new poll: 12 percent of Californians will vote the way Siri tells them to.
In order for Bernie to win, we must change the question from “Who would you rather have a beer with?” to “Who would you rather have a nice glass of seltzer with?”
Being President is a demanding job, and I have an excellent work ethic, if you count daydreaming as work.
As a kid I went on a class trip to the New York Times office. I was fascinated by the teletype, a machine that spit out a continual stream of news reports from around the world.
Now we can each have our own teletype. It’s called Twitter.
In 2010 a stand-up comedian named Jón Gnarr ran for mayor of the city of Reykjavík, Iceland. His campaign began as a joke (his party was called the Best Party), but Icelanders were angry at the banks after the 2008 financial crisis, and Gnarr’s campaign slogan was “Eliminate all debt!” He won.
The sad ending to the story is that he was miserable as mayor. “It’s just so boring!” he often told the Best Party’s sole employee, who had to give him pep talks to keep him in office.
I don’t consider myself a comedian. In fact, I am the opposite of a stand-up comic. I’m a stand-down comic.
Nonetheless I suspect that, were I to be miraculously elected President, my fate would be the same as Gnarr’s.
In 1968 Presidential candidate and civil-rights advocate Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. If Bernie Sanders had run for President as a democratic socialist in 1968, he likely would have been shot, too. Now MSNBC just worries about his “electability” until he disappears.
This is social progress in the U.S.A.
Everyone in our nation has a terrifying void inside that we attempt to fill with work, smartphones, and every other addiction. Some of us enter 12-step programs, where we become addicted to meetings, but the void persists.
We each keep our emptiness a shameful secret. It never occurs to us that everyone around us shares the exact same interior void.
I consider myself a radical activist, but only from time to time. I’m a “sporadical.”
Donald Trump has divorced two wives. In each marriage his spouse signed a prenuptial agreement that limited his losses in the divorce.
My wife and I have a postnuptial agreement: If we split up, we both stay poor.
I still haven’t done a single campaign appearance this election season. I was just about to plan one when the pandemic shuttered all social life.
So this journal is my campaign.
If Jesus is really going to return, now would be an excellent time.
I flunked astronomy, so I am unqualified to gaze at the stars.
I must confess that, as President, I will be unable to unify the U.S.A. Perhaps no one can. I’m listening to a series of lectures by Kenneth R. Bartlett about Italy before it became a nation. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the area around Rome was controlled by the pope. The north was dominated by “barbarians.” A bunch of dissatisfied nobles escaped to a swamp on the Adriatic and built the Republic of Venice.
This reminds me of our nation today. One-third of the country sees Donald Trump as their champion. Another third currently considers Andrew Cuomo, who gives a helpful daily briefing on the coronavirus, as the “real” President. Others swear fealty to Bernie Sanders. Unity has slipped away from the United States. In fact, I think it’s time we just start calling it “The States.”
The “free market” is a clever term for wage slavery.
My ego is fond of hatching schemes, one of which is to become President of the United States of America. Where does my ego get these ideas? They are all pretty much doomed to failure. Twenty-seven other Presidential candidates have graciously admitted defeat, but my ego fights on, like a wounded rat in an alley in Cleveland.
Donald J. Trump is right about one thing: we need government by tweet. Our citizens haven’t the patience for orotund speeches. They prefer brief, startling, sometimes cryptic messages. This is the main reason I should be President.
I do not trust the vocally patriotic. When someone tells me they “love America,” I wonder: Is there anyone who truly loves all of the U.S.A. — dollar stores and waterfalls, strip malls and bodegas, polka singers and rappers, redwood trees and parking meters, oil wells and bordellos? Possibly the only true patriot is God.
I just received my stimulus check. Trump has invented a new political strategy: giving away money without redistributing wealth. How does he do it? For every dollar he sends you, he gives three dollars to the very rich. Trump doesn’t care how we will pay for this. He’s always been a con artist promising something for nothing. Many of his previous businesses have gone bust, but he’s finally found a corporation that won’t go bankrupt: the federal government.
Life is the opposite of school: grades don’t matter, but conduct does. What’s essential is not how much you learn but how kind you are to others.
We need a more civilized way to resolve conflicts. As a kid I was fascinated by the circus act in which a clown is shot out of a cannon. When I am President, I will allow just one military action: shooting people out of cannons. Nations will compete to see whose clown flies farthest.
I remember learning in junior high school that President Andrew Jackson allowed uncivilized “common” people into the White House, who ruined the furniture with their muddy boots. Though I despise Jackson’s politics, in this one respect he was right. When I am President, I will admit extremely dirty people into the sacred executive mansion.
Overheard at Walmart: “Jesus told me to vote for Trump, and like a fool I listened!”
The earth is a fragile ecosystem, but don’t tell Republicans that. It will just make them angry.
While rereading The Communist Manifesto, I was surprised to discover that Marx calls for the abolition of countries and nationality. He explains: “The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got.”
I’ll tell you what working people do have, however: neighborhoods. I grew up in a proletarian enclave in northern Manhattan, and everyone there was very loyal to Inwood.
I would not fight in any U.S. wars, but I would definitely pick up a gun to defend Inwood!
Lessons learned from Bernie Sanders’s candidacy:
(1) It’s easy to convert privileged young people to socialism.
(2) It’s difficult to convert working-class people to socialism.
The virus is revealing new facts about the U.S. Who would have guessed that People Who Resent Science Because It’s Too Darn Complicated would become a major political force?
If I’d known how unsuccessful I was going to be in life, I wouldn’t have worked so hard.
The word crybaby has done untold damage to men. It says that anyone who cries, at any age, is no better than a baby.
Suppose an eight-year-old boy is hit in the face with a baseball. He breaks into tears, and his contemporaries taunt him with this epithet. Gradually the boy stops crying. The next time he suffers physical pain, he will cry less or not at all. He has severed ties to his own tender emotions, and now his only pleasure is making others cry. In order to commit violence against another, you must first commit violence against yourself.
Since only progressives will read my Presidential campaign diary, people accuse me of “preaching to the choir.” But I love the choir, whose mighty, united voices rise to the sky like geysers.
Sometimes you must fight to preserve what you don’t even have. That’s what’s happening in the U.S.A. today, where protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd continue after eight days. African Americans are fighting to maintain their dignity, which is stripped from them ten thousand times a day.
Don’t vote for me. Vote for Joe Biden. Here’s why: Suppose you’re in a burning building. You want to call the fire department, not make pancakes.
Joe Biden is the fire department. I am the pancakes.
When my mother-in-law sold her house, I took some of her classic books, including Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man. I love that title. By descent Darwin meant “lineage,” as in “Lydia is of noble descent,” but the word has largely lost that meaning. The title now seems to say: “We began as regal, vegetarian apes, and we’ve become querulous, YouTube-addicted losers ruled by Donald Trump.”
If our first President, George Washington, is the “father of our country,” then who is the mother? His wife, Martha, a wealthy plantation owner, does not qualify. Betsy Ross, who made the first U.S. flag, seems too trivial. How about Sally Hemings? She was the slave and concubine of our third President, Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and doubled the size of our nation, setting us on the path to Manifest Destiny. She bore Jefferson six children whom he never acknowledged as his. Yes, I believe Sally Hemings is our mother.
Do you feel like an adult? I certainly don’t. I associate adulthood with deep sobriety. Both my parents would wake up each morning and take the bitter pill of adulthood: an ugly-tasting multivitamin capsule washed down with acrid reconstituted orange juice. And they almost always ate cornflakes, a cereal of dour austerity. Watching my parents consume their daily soul-destroying breakfasts made me vow never to grow up.
I’m willing to become President, but not to be an adult. In this way I resemble our current chief executive.
Sparrow’s Presidential Campaigns
1992 — “My Campaign Diary” [September 1992]
1996 — “Why Didn’t You Vote for Me? A Diary of My Presidential Campaign” [May 1997]
2004 — “Why I Am Not President” [January 2006]
2008 — “Buy One, Get One Free: A Journal of My Presidential Campaign” [December 2008]
2012 — “Please Don’t Vote for Me” [November 2012]
2016 — “Embarrassed to Be an American: A Diary of My Presidential Campaign” [October 2016]